What’s been going on…

We’ve been a bit quiet of late, both here on the blog and on our Facebook and Instagram feeds. This year has been non-stop for us.

Young Puerh

We spent almost 3 months in Yunnan this Spring. I took my Chinese driving license test and was able to drive legally in the mountains for the first time this Spring. A friend of ours has a 4×4 he rarely uses in Yunnan, so has lent it to us on an ongoing basis for our tea hunting trips. It has really opened up the scope of the places we’re able to visit and given us much more freedom than in previous years. We were able to spend more time in Wuliang and Ai Lao than we have before. This area of Yunnan is very interesting for me. The altitude is very high and there’s a lot of very old wild trees and pure environment. It’s also well off the beaten track for the tea tourists that flock to Xishuangbanna each Spring, thus prices are still very reasonable and the farmers less spoilt than in the more famous regions.

Wuliang Wild Puerh

Wuliang Wild Puerh

We decided to press our cakes ourselves also and did so in the house of a farmer in Wuliang mountains. Everything is handmade – the fresh tea handpicked and hand-processed by the farmers, the loose tea for each cake weighed by Kathy, steamed with fresh mountain spring water and stone pressed by me. The cakes were laid out to dry in the shade for several days before being wrapped in local handmade paper and wrapped in bamboo tongs. The only machines used in the whole process was the 4×4 we used to transport the tea. Even with the printing of the wrappers, we decided to print using a small woodblock stamp.

Wrapping our Puerh tea cakes

Wrapping our Puerh tea cakes

Wuyi Yancha

We made a quick trip to Wuyi in the middle of the Spring and again in August. This year we decided to concentrate our selection of yancha and offer a few selected varietals from specific small locations within the park. We’ve been discussing a strategy with Master Huang – he’s really keen for the best of his teas to be made available to tea drinkers in the west and offered us some small varietal and small location teas this year.

Tasting Wuyi Yancha

Tasting Wuyi Yancha

We’re still waiting for 3 more teas which were still being roasted when we visited in August, but have listed the others online and made them available for sale. My feeling is that the purity of small single location teas really shows in the quality of teas we’re offering this year.

Harvesting Lao Shou Xin

Harvesting Lao Shou Xin

Liu bao

Liu Bao is hot in Malaysia right now. More and more Chinese are coming to Malaysia and hunting around for the old Liu bao teas. It’s quite an exciting time to be in the Liu Bao market – in Malaysia most people are holding on to their good teas, but when someone needs money and makes their tea available for sale, you need to be quick – baskets are snapped up by tea business people and local investors in a matter of days. The processing of Liu Bao has really changed in the past 5 or so years and the new teas don’t have the traditional flavour any more. As a result the pre-2011 teas are more and more sought after & it’s these teas that people are scrambling to store.


Lastly, we’ve just moved house. Previously we were based in Petaling Jaya, a satellite town to Kuala Lumpur, but with still the same traffic jams and poor air as the capital. For the past year or so, we’ve been renting a warehouse in Taiping, a sleepy colonial town surrounded by mountains a few hours drive north of KL. Each time we came here, we rarely wanted to leave and eventually decided to make the move completely. The air is nice and the environment is great for storing tea, the mountain water is good for brewing tea and the town is small enough to get around on a bicycle. It’s a lovely change from city living!



We’ve just finished with the move and settling into our new home. Hopefully over the coming weeks, we’ll have some new teas and teapots coming as we spend some time hunting around Malaysia again.

Puerh Tea Club – Spring shipment closing date


We’re back from the mountains, finishing up our trip in Yunnan and consolidating our teas in our Jinghong warehouse. Over the next few days we’ll be preparing and arranging shipping for the Spring shipment of our puerh tea club.

I know there are a few people who’d mentioned that they’d like to be included in the Spring shipment & thought I’d give more general advance notice. The closing date for those who’d like to be included in this Spring shipment is Friday 17th June. Orders after that date will receive 1 x 2016 Autumn and 1x 2017 Spring Shipment.

We’ve found some very interesting and special teas this year. I hope they’ll prove enjoyable for everyone.


Puerh Tea Club

Ancient Tree Puerh Tea

Each year in the tea mountains we come across high end teas that are available in too small quantities to deal with on a commercial basis. They tend to be single tree teas or from special places that friends are willing to share a couple of kg of, but no more. We tend to buy these and keep them for ourselves, but would love to share these with tea lovers and allow them to taste a level of tea that doesn’t usually make it anywhere near the market.

For quite some time we’ve been considering the idea of a tea club, where members get a regular shipment, but have been put off by the idea of so much of their membership fee being wasted on monthly postage costs.

While in the tea mountains this Spring, we had an idea – instead of a monthly parcel delivery, we could offer 2 parcels per year – one in Spring and one in Autumn, and instead of just offering teas that we sell normally through the website as most tea clubs do, we could offer something special – these teas that we normally keep for ourselves.

This regular commitment allows us to reserve the whole year’s tea from specific farmers, guaranteeing them income for the year and allowing us to request them to let the trees rest and not pick the summer tea. It helps us to plan our spending on these rarer teas and for you, the tea drinker, it gives you access to a quality of tea that is virtually impossible to come across in the open market.

What we propose is, for a single payment of £500, you’ll receive 2 parcels per year. One containing our Spring teas and one containing Autumn teas. The weighting of each in terms of value would be roughly 2/3 Spring tea, 1/3 Autumn. In each parcel you’ll receive a range of special teas in small quantities and maybe a 2-3 in larger quantities. There should be some as loose maocha and some pressed cakes. Where there are very limited quantities of some teas preference will be given to those who signed up earlier.

Please feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions in the comment section below. By signing up, you place some trust in us to make the selection, but I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.

For those interested please sign up here

Processing the Da Hong Pao mother trees

We’ve just arrived back in Yunnan from a week in Wuyishan. We had a great trip and spent most of our days in the studio and the mountains with Master Huang and his sons. I think this year more than any other we started to understand the importance of location for the trees in the park – how the effect of shady locations and locations in full sunshine, the effect of having cliffs close to the trees and of course the age of the trees. All these factors and many more have a huge effect on the taste and aroma of the finished teas.

We decided this year to concentrate on higher end teas – older trees and better locations and to provide more detail on the location of each tea so that everyone can taste and compare for themselves.

On the last day of our trip Master Huang mentioned that they had been asked to pick and process leaves from two of the Da Hong Pao mother trees for a government researcher. Of course we didn’t get to try some, but felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to see, smell and touch these famous leaves. I thought I’d share a few photos…

Da Hong Pao Mother trees


Picking the Da Hong Pao mother trees






Since the water content was quite high, the leaves needed to rest for over 12 hours before they were ready for the kill green stage. We had a flight to catch the next day, so didn’t manage to stay awake until 5am when Master Huang fried the leaves, but got some pictures of the semi-finished tea the next morning.


Half finished tea – ready to have the stems and larger leaves picked then given a further roast


Christmas in February – Yixing teapots

1980's Yixing Shui Ping Fang Yuan Pai

One of the teapots we get asked most for is the shui ping shape from Yixing Factory 1. It’s really a classic – simple shape, good clay and very functional.

Last weekend I visited a collector who’s been collecting Yixing pots since the 80’s. Over the years I’ve met some people with a lot of teapots… thousands and thousands, but this man puts all their collections to shame. He literally has many thousands. They’re stacked in crates, stuffed in cupboards, littering the floor, everywhere you look there’s teapots. It think it would be fair to politely say that perhaps it’s a bit of an obsession!

I mentioned to him that I was looking for shui ping pots from the 80’s. After hunting around and finding a few here and a few there in different cupboards, he pulled out a cardboard box, filled with rolls of yellowed newspaper. The rolls were still sealed with their old, crumbling sellotape. Upon unwrapping a few, it became clear that we’d struck gold. They were filled with well made, late 80’s shui pings.

He said bought these in the late 80’s. They were cheap then! Indeed the newspaper is dated from 1993. Chances like this don’t come too often, so I quickly said I’d take them all.

Back at home, opening up the rolls, it was an interesting experience. These pots hadn’t even seen daylight for over 20 years! They were all in perfect condition, the clay has a lovely even sheen and the craftsmanship very good.